The State of Qatar stands tall with state-of-the-art infrastructure and facilities, its huge reserve of natural gas, and growing investment in non-hydrocarbon activities.

The country is a dry, subtropical desert with rough, sandy terrain. As well as fishing and pearling, Qatar has always been involved in agriculture. Prior to the blockade in June 2017, most produce came via imports from neighbouring nations and beyond. The blockade led to Qatar showing massive growth in its agricultural and livestock sector. There have been huge achievements in food security, despite difficulties and challenges such as the blockade and other geopolitical crises, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the harsh climatic and environmental conditions.

Statistics from the Agricultural Affairs Department at the Ministry of Municipality show that in 2021 cultivated land in Qatar was over 13,430 hectares, producing 772,829 tonnes of fruits, vegetables, grains and green fodders. The increasing availability of arable land and therefore agricultural production is due in part to the success of the Qatar National Food Security Strategy 2018–2023, which aims to provide quality foods at reasonable prices through local production and strategic storage.

According to Dr Masoud Jarallah Al Marri, Director of the Food Security Department at the Ministry of Municipality, Qatar has become self-sufficient in fresh milk and chicken. ‘For frozen chicken, we depend on import and storage. However, fresh chicken is being produced in Qatar, in which we have achieved 100% self-sufficiency.’ Local production of table eggs is 55% of the country’s total demand, to increase to 70% by next year.

Dr Al Marri added: ‘The self-sufficiency in producing five basic types of vegetables has reached 46%, with the aim to increase it to 70%. The self-sufficiency rate of the country in producing red meat has reached 20%. Projects for fattening livestock were launched in coordination with the private sector to increase meat production to 30%. We depend on imported frozen meat for the remaining 70%.’ Qatar has become self-sufficient by up to 70% in dates and 75% in fish.

The Qatar National Food Security Strategy is run by the Food Security Department at the Ministry of Municipality and implemented in conjunction with other authorities, such as the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, as well as consumers, traders, food processing factories and producers, researchers, students and policymakers. The national food security analytics platform collects data under a single digital dashboard, providing information to help design data-based and fact-based policies and interventions.

This improvement in food security in Qatar has led to greater affordability, availability and quality of food supplies with sustainable investments in infrastructure, food security policies and strategies.

Notable local food production companies

Hassad Food is a subsidiary of Qatar Investment Authority. Established in 2008, the company is Qatar’s premier investor in the food and agri-business sectors, with a focus on global investments and viable prospects that support Qatar and the nation’s food requirements.

Domestically, Hassad Food has a number of investments, which include • Aswaq for Food Facilities Management Company to manage the central markets • Arab Qatari Agricultural Production Company (QATFA), which has the largest vegetable farm in Qatar at 200 hectares in Al Sheehaniya • Arab Qatari Company for Poultry Production (Al Waha) • Grain Bunkers in Al Wukair with a storage capacity of 250,000 tons • National Food Company (NAFCO) with the largest date processing facility in Qatar producing around 2,500 tons a year from 16 varieties • Baladna Company in the dairy sector • Widam Food Company in the meat sector.

Across these local subsidiaries, Hassad Food produces lamb, grain, green fodder, basmati rice, eggs and poultry, dates, vegetables and a number of other products.

International investments include companies in Canada, Turkey, Australia and Oman.

AGRICO is a private Qatari agricultural development company with the goal of achieving national food security, based on sustainable long term agricultural production via innovation, expertise and the best technology available. The company’s farm is located 58 km outside of Doha, and is the most sophisticated air-conditioned hydroponic facility in the country. Produce can be harvested daily and distributed locally within 24 hours.

AGRICO is the first local greenhouse to distribute pre-packed organic produce, straight from the farm to supermarket shelves. A range of vegetables and fruits are grown including cucumbers, aubergines, leafy greens, peppers, courgettes, mushrooms, tomatoes, melons, papayas and pomegranates. AGRICO has recently started production of natural honey and organic eggs, and has opened the first aquaponic farm at Carrefour in City Center mall.

But it isn’t just agriculture where Qatar is growing! Raw’a, the signature brand of the Gulf Food Production company, Al Maha Dairy and Fruit Juices Factory, and Dandy are all 100% Qatari entities offering dairy products and fresh juices. Products are widely available and include fresh and longlife milks, yogurts, juices and desserts.

Where to buy local produce

Supermarkets in Qatar actively promote local produce, holding festivals in conjunction with the Ministry of Municipality and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. As well as the above brands, look out for produce from other local farms, like Safwa, Khodra, Mazzrati and QADCO.

Highlighting local produce encourages consumers to be more conscious of where their food comes from, and is an opportunity to buy fresh, sustainable produce from local farms – all at a good price.

There are many farmers’ markets throughout the year, usually between November/December and April/May. These markets promote the development and encouragement of local farming, with quality produce at cheaper prices and the participation of more than 100 farms. See Shopping in Qatar and Other Places to Shop for more about these local markets.

Al Burgan Farm (previously Mustafawi Organic Vegetables) offers a home delivery service of fresh organic produce from their farm off Al Shamal Road during the farming season, which runs from late autumn through to the beginning of the next summer. Consumers can order a wide range of produce direct to their doorstep – check their Facebook page for updates on available vegetables and herbs. Also, don’t forget to visit Torba Farmers Market at Msheireb Downtown Doha, which hosts local farms and artisans from late autumn until summer.

And of course, many of the restaurants and cafes around town include local products in their dishes, so you can be guaranteed fresh and tasty meals whenever you like. So now there is every reason to support Qatari farms and eat good, local produce!

Author: Sarah Palmer and Ola Diab

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